On Wednesday night, Utah lawmakers voted to lower the limit for a driver’s blood-alcohol content.
The bill must first be signed by Utah Governor Gary Herbert to take effect. At the moment, he is in full support of the legislation. If the bill is passed, it will become law on December 30th, 2018—right before the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
The legislation is seeing much support, as many think that it will save lives by keeping more drunk drivers off the streets. Some lawmakers are against the measure, however. A mix of Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans believe the harsher measures will affect tourism negatively and Utah’s reputation. Utah, a heavily Mormon state, already has a bad reputation as an unfriendly place for drinkers.
Opposition is also coming from the American Beverage Institute. The restaurant trade group stated that a man weighing 150 pounds could get a DUI upon downing two beers. A woman weighing 120 pound could get one after drinking only one. Also, the amount of food in someone’s stomach could affect someone’s blood-alcohol content.
Recently in a statement, American Beverage Institute Managing Director Sarah Longwell said the new measure will not do much to increase road safety because over 77 percent of alcohol-related traffic deaths in Utah come from drivers with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 and above. “Utah legislators missed an opportunity today to target the hard-core drunk drivers who cause the vast majority of drunk driving fatalities and instead decided to criminalize perfectly responsible behavior,” Longwell said.
The bill will see the limit for a driver’s blood-alcohol content drop from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent.
Utah may not be alone in reducing the BAC limits this year. Washington lawmakers are also considering following along.
Currently, in most states, drivers adhere to a BAC minimum 0.08 percent. However, for commercial drivers or drivers with a DUI on their record, the limit may be lower.
A few foreign countries have blood-alcohol content thresholds at 0.05. or lower, according to Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo. He believes that a person starts to become impaired after just one drink.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration informed that drivers may become unable to function properly at 0.05 BAC. They may struggle with steering, coordinating, tracking moving objects and responding to emergencies.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been pushing for states to drop their BAC levels to 0.05 or even lower for years. But the hospitality industry has pressured local officials from executing this change.
Is Utah getting stricter towards alcohol consumption?
Many believe that Utah is getting stricter toward alcohol consumption, but that may not actually be the case. The state has actually been easing other “liquor laws that deal with the preparation of alcoholic drinks in restaurants.”
If the measure gets approved by the governor, diners would be able to see their drinks being poured or mixed if restaurants set up child-free buffer zones around bars.
What do you think about this bill? Do you think reducing the limit for a driver’s blood-alcohol content would make the roads safer? Let me know on Facebook or in the comments section below.